george dorn (gdorn) wrote,
george dorn

from academic magic elist

"Crowley as a bad influence"

I never really had much of an interest in the dark aspects of Crowley, save the necessary terrors involved in pushing one's own boundaries. Renaissance stuff is pretty dark if you read the heresy-hunters and witchcraft theorists, alchemy is gross, etc. Crowley doesn't have as much creepy power as the Malleus Maleficarum. But I agree that the study of Renaissance Magic is much more sweetness and light, much more applicable to practical ethical/moral behavior, much better philosophy. I got into Crowley via Robert Anton Wilson's fiction and theorizings on magic, which are much gentler and better humored than Crowley's own. He seemed like a great study in all the literary tricks and traps I was learning about in heady Theory (I wrote in grad school about Burroughs and Crowley on possession), but his texts were also a place in which I quickly discovered all kinds of practical stuff that opened experiential doors. I can't deny that there wasn't a "too much too fast" thing going on or that I didn't pick up some bad habits that got me in trouble. (I was lucky that a professor had the kindness to shock me out of a particularly glazed state once by asking me how I expected my writing to appeal to the unititiated.) But it was always from the point of view of RAW's "this is only an experiment in weird belief" and I quickly realized that I didn't have to be a Crowleyan to "do magic." I feel much better now. There was never a point that I wasn't disgusted with the guy's biography (also a fascinating study from various academic angles) once I learned about it--and I do have mixed feelings about the notion that one can value his texts independently of his bad actions. There are plenty of ways Crowley can be a bad influence, but he also teaches the kind of self-monitoring techniques that help young egomaniacs get over themselves. The area of drugs is potentially very scary for parents, or in my case teachers. Crowley is a fascinating figure in the history of literature and drugs, as well as experimentation with altered states of consciousness, but there are too many examples of how his serious scientific approach also furnishes plenty of rationalizations for abusers. If you believe that we learn more from our mistakes and failures, the ethical questionableness of Crowley can take on new light, but maybe not every young budding occultist reads Crowley and discovers how seriously he is in denial about what a lecherous asshole he is! But if it does not quickly becomes obvious how wrong he was about medieval magic, Kabbalah, gender, domination, abuse, epistemological hygiene, etc. then maybe we have a problem...
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